Vose Seminary's Buechner Writing Competition 2019

Vose Seminary is launching the inaugural Buechner Writing Competition! We invite Vose students and alumni to submit a personal essay on the theme of faith and fiction.


Winner – $800

Runner-up – $400

Closing date: 31 May 2019

Winners announced: 31 July 2019


Topics: entrants should read and consider Frederick Buechner’s sermon “Faith and Fiction” in researching their essay, although you do not need to refer to it directly.

‘Faith is journeying through space and through time. If someone were to come up to me and ask me to talk about my faith, it is exactly that journey that I would eventually have to talk about – the ups and downs of the years, the dreams, the odd moments, the intuitions. I would have to talk about the occasional sense that… life has a plot the way a novel has a plot, that events are somehow or other leading somewhere. Whatever your faith may be or my faith may be, it seems to me inseparable from the story of what happened to us, and that is why I believe that no literary form is better adapted to the subject than the form of fiction.’

– Frederick Buechner, “Faith and Fiction”, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, New York: Harpercollins, 172-173. [Some copies of this book are available for free from the Vose Library desk while stocks last.]


You may interpret the theme broadly, with ‘fiction’ including feature films and scripted television. Possible topics include:

  • The depiction of faith in a particular novel or film and its resonances in your own life.
  • The role fiction has played in your faith journey.
  • The ‘plot’ of your life.

Genre: a personal essay should show a distinctive authorial voice and draw on personal experience. Unlike academic essays, personal essays are written to connect with a general audience. You would be helped by reading examples of the genre, including Christian writers like Frederick Buechner, Lauren Winner, Philip Yancey, and Rachel Held Evans and other writers like Helen Garner and Annie Dillard. Entries should show either wide reading or deep engagement with a particular text and reference any quotes. Entries will be judged on spiritual insight and literary merit.


Length: 2000 – 4000 words


Eligibility: All students enrolled in a unit for credit at Vose Seminary at the closing date are eligible to enter. Both VET and ACT students are eligible; however, audit students are not eligible. Former students who studied for at least the equivalent of one year full-time at Vose Seminary / BTCWA at any time are also eligible to enter. Current permanent staff at Vose Seminary are ineligible to enter.


Formatting: entries will be judged anonymously, so please do not put your name on the document itself. Entries should be in PDF, with at least 1.5 line spacing.


Submission: email your entries to office@vose.edu.au, subject line ‘Buechner Writing Competition’, specifying in the body of the email the following details: name, contact number, title of entry, category of eligibility (current student or, if former student, years studied at BTCWA / Vose).


Enquiries: if you have questions about the competition, please contact Nathan Hobby (nathan.hobby@vose.edu.au). (Please do not email your entry to Michael or Nathan­ – see above for submission.)

About Frederick Buechner:
The prize money for this competition has been generously provided by the Frederick Buechner Centre as part of their international seminary program. Born in 1926, Buechner (pronounced BEEK-ner) is an American author of over thirty books. Unusually for a Christian writer exploring faith, his work has been widely acclaimed by secular readers and critics. His writing has been praised for its ability to inspire readers to see the grace in their daily lives.